A DAY WITH HEATHER HUMPHREYS

Heather Humphreys TD at Blayney Blades celebration in Castleblayney  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Heather Humphreys TD at Blayney Blades celebration in Castleblayney Photo: © Michael Fisher

A BUSY SCHEDULE FOR HEATHER 

Michael Fisher

It’s a busy week for local Fine Gael T.D. and Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys. When this reporter met her in Castleblayney on Monday morning, she had been on the road since 8.30am, leaving her home in Aghabog to start work at her constituency office in Monaghan by 9am. Her first public engagement was at the Íontas Centre, where she was the guest speaker at an event organised by Blayney Blades to celebrate International Women’s Day. In her speech she mentioned how important an influence her mother Emily had been and how two of her secondary school teachers had encouraged her to enter politics. She stayed for two hours, networking with a large group of women and passing on the welcome news that funding a network of 17 women’s groups throughout the country had been secured. Instead of taking lunch at the Centre, the Minister stayed in Castleblayney to meet a constituent before returning to her office in Monaghan around 1:45pm. She just had time for a small snack from a nearby café before heading off to Beech Hill College in Monaghan, where a woodwork room had been refurbished and equipment upgraded with the aid of a grant. She took the opportunity to speak to the principal and teachers as well as some of the students. After an hour at the College she returned once again to the Mall Road office at 3:30pm to carry out constituency work for three hours. By 7pm she was back home, taking the opportunity to do some packing for an official trip she is making to England this week. She is flying to London on Wednesday night and will be the main guest at a number of functions over the St Patrick’s weekend. On Friday evening the Irish ambassador Dan Mulhall hosts a reception at the Irish embassy and there will be a formal dinner to attend on Saturday night. On Sunday the Minister will join fellow Monaghan native Barry McGuigan at the head of the St Patrick’s Day parade in the British capital.

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys TD at Magheracloone Fine Gael Branch AGM  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys TD at Magheracloone Fine Gael Branch AGM Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Minister’s third public engagement on Monday was at Magheracloone Community centre (near Carrickmacross), where she attended the AGM of the local Fine Gael branch. It was the first time in recent memory that a government Minister had been present. Over a welcome cup of tea at the end of the meeting, Heather Humphreys explained that the following day (Tuesday) her diary would be taken up with a Cabinet meeting in the afternoon and a meeting of the 1916 Commemoration committee (which is one of her responsibilities) that evening. Wednesday would see her answering questions in the Dáil.

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys TD at Blayney Blades congratulates their Woman of the Year 2015 Sr Catherine Brennan  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys TD at Blayney Blades congratulates their Woman of the Year 2015 Sr Catherine Brennan Photo: © Michael Fisher

So after putting in a fourteen hour shift on Monday, it was time (10:30pm) for the Minister to return home. She told me she normally tried to keep Sundays free as a family day, a time she could enjoy with her husband Eric and their two daughters. She certainly has a busy schedule.

*******************************************

Tonight (Thursday) the Minister is in London, attending an Enterprise Ireland St Patrick’s Day reception at Trinity House (the body responsible for lighthouses). It is an opportunity to network with business people, many of them Irish, and to encourage investment in Ireland. This photo was posted on her twitter account @HHumphreysFG:

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys TD at Enterprise Ireland reception in London  Photo: @HHumphreysFG

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys TD at Enterprise Ireland reception in London Photo: @HHumphreysFG

NIAMH KINDLON

Monaghan Ladies Footballer Niamh Kindlon Photo:  © Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Monaghan Ladies Footballer Niamh Kindlon Photo: © Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Monaghan All-Star footballer Niamh Kindlon from Magheracloone is profiled as one of the modern greats of ladies football in next week’s popular GAA documentary series Laochra Gael. It will be broadcast tonight (Tuesday March 3rd) by TG4 at 8pm. A special preview screening took place last Thursday evening at McNally’s bar in Carrickmacross for Niamh, her family and friends. It was attended by the TG4 Ceannaire (Director General) Pól Ó Gallchóir.

Pól Ó Gallchóir, Ceannaire TG4

Pól Ó Gallchóir, Ceannaire TG4

Each of the ten programmes in the new season contains an extended interview with the subject, archive footage of her or his finest hour on the pitch and an assessment from friends, rivals and team-mates.

Niamh started out under the guidance of her father Maurice as an enthusiastic nine year-old with her club Magheracloone and has been a leading light for Monaghan ladies ever since. Aged sixteen and in her first season with the senior team she played a crucial role in the 1997 All-Ireland final. Ten minutes before half-time, Niamh drilled the ball high into the top right-hand corner of the net at the Canal End goal from twenty yards. Michael Ryan, who managed the Waterford ladies, said that “even to this day, it’s the greatest goal I’ve ever seen scored in ladies’ football”.

The following year the two counties clashed once again in two epic All-Irelands after the first final ended in a draw. Unfortunately for Monaghan, Waterford won the second time round but the rivalry set a new standard for ladies football.

Niamh Kindlon on Laochra Gael, TG4

Niamh Kindlon on Laochra Gael, TG4

Niamh captained Monaghan back to Croke Park in 2002 when they took on the cream of the crop from Mayo but the Westerners took the cup home once again, leaving Niamh heartbroken, “There’s bigger things than football but when you’re in that moment it’s very hard to think past it because you’re so upset about it. It’s still hard to put on your boots on again after it”, she reveals. 2003 was no easier for Niamh when she suffered the first of two cruciate injuries but she was determined not to let injury dictate the end of her career. “I didn’t want my cruciate to be the reason I retired from county football.”

Niamh and Monaghan both made the comeback but a new force in Ladies Gaelic had emerged to dominate the game: Cork. Over the following years they defeated Monaghan in three finals 2008, 2011 and 2013. Niamh talks especially about her personal disappointment at not been selected to play a full part in the latter two finals.

While there have been many ups and downs it is clear that Niamh loved every minute since she joined the county team as a teenager and her haul of three League titles, three All Stars and an All-Ireland medal attest to her consistency as one of the leading Ladies’ Gaelic Footballers in recent decades. She has also won several Ulster medals with Monaghan.

Niamh who is now 33 is a plumber by trade. Apart from Gaelic football, her other interests included basketball and for a time, soccer. As well as an extensive interview with Niamh the programme also features interviews with teammate Christina Reilly, Cork’s Juliet Murphy, Dubliner Fiona Ní Chorcoráin and Robbie Ó Grifín

The documentary on Niamh is the fourth of ten in the series, which will also feature Fan & Philly Larkin from Kilkenny, Dublin’s Barney Rock, Brendan Cummins from Tipperary, Michael Duignan from Offaly, Kerry’s Ogie Moran and Ryan McMenamin of Tyrone. Catch the programme every Tuesday at 8pm on TG4, with a repeat broadcast every Sunday evening after GAA BEO. Laochra Gael is produced by Nemeton TV for TG4.